Going on vacation to a resort in the Dominican Republic sounds like a dream. Drinks by the pool, relaxing on the beach, and not a thing to worry about.
When the Stewart family from Wilmington, North Carolina, went on a vacation to the Dominican Republic in 2017 that’s exactly what they did. But they also planned something a little extra, something that wasn’t included in any hotel package.
“When we got there, my mom said she didn’t want me spending my entire time on the resort, and that she wanted to show me what life was like for young children living in a third world country,” the family’s then 12-year-old daughter Emma told WECT.
In 2017, the Stewarts visited the Dominican Republic.
While on vacation, the Stewarts visited Orfanato Niños de Cristo. The orphanage houses around 160 children who have been abandoned and/or are victims of abuse. The children come from the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
In addition to enjoying time at their resort, they volunteered at a local orphanage.
When the Stewarts visited the orphanage, Emma noticed a few things about the children and their situation. Even though Orfanato Niños de Cristo was focused on giving the children a better life through education and housing, there was still some aspects that needed improvement.
There was a lot of broken glass laying around, and because none of the children had any shoes, a lot of them had cuts and bruises on their feet. Emma also noted that they didn’t have any protection from bugs.
Emma was deeply affected by her time spent at the orphanage.
After returning home from their trip Emma got an idea. She still couldn’t take her mind off the children she met at the orphanage in the Dominican Republic and she wanted to do something for them.
So, for her 13th birthday she decided to ask for donations. Her number one request? Flip flops.
Emma was able to collect “hundreds of pairs” of flip flops.
Emma’s mother and grandmother both shared on Facebook the soon-to-be 13-year-old’s birthday wishes, and people donated “hundreds of pairs” of flip flops, according to WECT.
“I don’t understand what they have gone through their whole lives, but now I have an idea,” Emma said. “I am privileged enough to live here, and they aren’t, but they still deserve nice things.”
In addition to the flips flops, Emma was also able to gather much needed books, clothing, and toiletries for the children.
Emma and her family planned a week-long visit to the Dominican Republic to deliver the supplies in person.
About a week and a half after her April 1st birthday, the Stewarts left for a trip to the Dominican Republic, where they delivered the items to the children at Orfanato Niños de Cristo.
Emma’s actions not only had a great impact on the children, but they also inspired many others, including friends and family.